The Low Carb Paradox
Low Carb Aphrodisiacs
The Measure of Love
Cosmetic Surgery: Part III
Valentine's Day Treats
Interview: Jonny Bowden
The Bear Facts
A German Vacation
Make It Low Carb!
Snapshot: Schlotzsky's Deli
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"The world is a book,
and those who do not travel, read only one page."
— Saint Augustine
Our best travel memories are always the people we have met...
A few years ago our family rented three cars in Frankfurt and
turned them in 17 days later in Munich. In between was a trip
full of back roads, out of the way sights, and small town gasthauses.
There was the joy of seeing the German Alps from deserted roads, teeth
clenching moments driving on the autobahns, and great meals that lasted
entire evenings in little out of the way towns. Along the way we met
beautiful and wonderful people.
If you're not afraid to approach total strangers, you can have a wonderful
time in Europe. Asking for help with simple things like train schedules,
subways, and even bathroom, makes everything else easy. Unlike America,
foreigners don't usually run when strangers ask for help. Our travel
memories and laughter are full of experiences in train stations and city
streets and department stores when all we were looking for were the men's
and ladies' rooms.
And nowhere were we strangers more than that day in Ulm, Germany. We were
six Americans, and we were stopping people on the street and asking for the
Ulm wasn't in our original plans, but we had detoured in honor of Herta. At
the end of World War II, a young soldier with the first name of Brown came
to Ulm as part of the occupation force. He met a young German girl with
rose petal lips, and they fell in love. Brown and Herta were married and
came to the United States, and eventually their daughter married our nephew,
making them part of our large extended family. Today, almost fifty years
after they were married, Herta and Brown lie together in a simple country
cemetery in southwestern Ohio.
We had three separate cars because the travel agency had a special and wanted
a lot less for three cars than for one big van. Trying to stay together on the
Autobahn is another story in itself. We were wandering the back roads when we
saw the road sign to Ulm. We couldn't pass up the chance to see Ulm, where
Herta had grown up and met Brown.
Ulm lies against the banks of the Danube and has one of the largest cathedrals
in the world. You can fit the crowd at most college football games, about
20,000, inside the cathedral. Somehow the cathedral had survived the war unscathed,
and its spires can be seen from all over the city. We had seen the cathedral and
had taken pictures by a sign with the simple name "Ulm," and were ready to leave
town on our way to Mad King Ludwig's palace in southern Bavaria.
But first we needed to find the bathroom. That isn't normally hard in big German
cities. Public water closets, with the big "WC" sign, are usually convenient and
clean and charge only a small fee, but we hadn't been able to find one. The
streets were full of people returning to their offices for lunch, and one of my
brothers-in-law approached a middle aged German couple. There wasn't a WC nearby,
they said, but then they did something that would never happen in the United
States, they invited us to his office to use the facilities.
The six of us, unmistakably Americans in dress and actions, followed them a few
blocks and across a busy tree-lined street to a modern, high rise building. The
sign outside was in German and meant nothing to us.
It was only when we got to his office on one of the top floors that we realized
where we were. This was a courts building, and our host was the Ober Something
Or Other. His judicial robes hung in the corner of his office. Looking back,
(we had his card, but have long since lost it), he was either the prosecuting
attorney, a judge, or some other officer of the court.
After we had used the bathrooms, the couple invited us to the roof to see the
Calling it just a view is an understatement. From the rooftop cafeteria and the
surrounding terrace, the medieval German city was breathtaking. Dominated by the
cathedral, Ulm spread out before us.
On one side was the cathedral and, in the other direction, a suspension bridge
spanned the Danube and led from the city. Looking directly down, our host
explained, the little row houses had been quarters for the army before the world
wars. I blew a roll of film on that roof.
His wife brought out their road atlas, mandatory for driving in Europe and
available at every gas station, and pointed out the route we should take out
of town. Then our host handed us his card and cautioned that, if we were stopped
by the police, we should ask them to call him. The way we were driving in
unfamiliar territory, we could use a Get Out of Jail Free card!
Back in America, we put a copy of one of the pictures in a card and mailed it to
them, thanking them for that simple, but unforgettable, act of kindness. In that
picture, the judge, or at least officer of the court, is in the yellow sweater.
His wife is the woman in the black cape holding the travel atlas.
We met a lot of very nice people on that trip, and these were two of the nicest.
Herta would be proud.
Copyright © February 2004 Bill Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Insert photos Copyright © 2004 Bill Beaty